The Only Girl & the boys review their first trip to Butlin’s for
The Astonishing Family Science Weekend…
What are your first thoughts when you think of Butlin’s? Prior to this weekend, my only experience of Butlin’s was the day trip my great-nan would take (read: drag) me on every Summer – cue memories of wet, windy weather and a somewhat grim, outdated seaside family holiday park in need of good clean, some Weedol and a lick of paint! Some distant relatives would rent a beige looking, damp “chalet” for a week, every year,cramming kids, grand kids and anyone else with the same DNA in their bleak bolthole. But like the poor relations with tongues wagging, Nanny Flo and I’d hop on the train to be granted a day pass to experience a measly slither of their holiday. It’s memories like these, in-ground in the psyche of 30-something parents of the UK that gave Butlin’s it’s stigma as a less than desirable holiday destination. Fast forward 23 years, a £70 million overhaul, and with a Butlin’s Holiday Ambassadorship to my name – we were cautiously off on our very first Butlin’s Break.
Who went: Me, Mr Only Girl, 14, 12 & 1 year old (8 & 9 yr olds had jetted off to Barcalona with their dad to watch the football for the weekend!).
When: Friday-Monday, for the Astonishing Family Science Weekend
Staying: The Wave Hotel, Bognor Regis.
Whilst it’s very tempting to wax lyrical about the modern, two bed apartment with stunning wrap-around balcony and panoramic sea views, or the fabulous buffet style, premium dining plan which left even our fussiest of eaters sated, our main aim to was give a little taster of the weekend’s entertainment, namely the offerings of the Astonishing Science Weekend; aimed at 6-14 year olds with the goal of inspiring the next generation of scientists through a vast range of shows, interactive workshops and drop-in activities.
Bearing in mind the boys were at the top end of the age suggestion, I carefully selected a few “older” looking workshops, with an 8+ indicator, to keep their eye on the science-weekend ball. Over the two days they/we become light & sound engineers with Rose Bruford College, morphed into WWII spies whilst code breaking with the team from Bletchley Park, whizzed round on the latest balance board gadget – the Nine-Bot and sat in on a full lecture by the University of Glasgow on Zombie Science.
These bookable workshops were interspersed with drop-in activities such as the illusions room, walking on custard and the centre for computing history – where I heard the boys on numerous occasions exclaiming “OMG, look at THAT!” to what I considered cutting edge in 1990/1993/1999.
The boys enjoyed all the activities, but felt they were more suitable for a younger audience, especially as they were quite often surrounded by younger kids. Although the age is given as 6-14 we would say that it is perfect for pre-senior school kids, 6-11 years old and then, us – the adults, so perhaps 6-11 then 21-99!
Of the three explosive, animated and simply spectacular shows we made it to only one, as either the timings meant the boys would miss something else or the subject didn’t appeal. Saturday night though, we braced ourselves for Brainiac Live – A science lesson on amphetamines, with an award-winning bunch of mad scientists from the telly happily electrocuting themselves, blowing up microwaves and quite literally running through walls for our viewing pleasure. Although initially dubious about coming along to this one, the kids loved it, as did I. We rushed back enthusiastically to Mr Only Girl, who’d been on babysitting duty, with our newly discovered fun facts and mini quizzes. we were quite honestly buzzing with excitement thanks to The Brainiacs.
The accommodation, staff, food and perennial Butlin’s activities would have been more than enough to keep us all happy and well entertained for the weekend, so the science bit was an added bonus.
I’d think twice about taking the older two again for the Science weekend – we’re just gutted the 8 & 9 year old weren’t with us, as they would have loved it. If you’re considering taking anyone aged 6-9, I wouldn’t hesitate – they will, without a doubt, find it engaging, mind-boggling and captivating (along with the grown ups!).
Although too young to grasp the concept of gravity, there was still plenty for Casper to get stuck into – a mini play park, toddler soft play, swimming and mini fairground rides – all went to keeping him busy. High chairs and travel cots are available to hire to make your packing a little easier too. On a side note – Casper has never slept so well!
The only problem we found was there was simply too much to do, we weren’t able to fit everything in!
Fancy seeing some more snaps from our stay? Head over to my Facebook Page to see the album.